Unlikely road alignment and large forest clearing width for Amaila Falls road

Dear Editor,

Your article ‘Synergy behind schedule on Amaila Falls road’ (SN, February 6) quoted Senior Government Engineer Walter Willis on a construction permit for sections 6 and 7 of this access
road being given on January 11, 2011. Presumably these are the same sections 6 and 7 for which a tender notice was issued by the Guyana Forestry Commission in early October 2010 to current holders of logging concessions? That tender notice, together with the terms of reference and a map with improbably straight lines for the road alignment in broken terrain, is still on the News page of the GFC website; see http://www.forestry.gov.gy/Downloads/AMAILA_FALLS_EOI.pdf,
http://www.forestry.gov.gy/Downloads/AMAILA_FALLS_TERMS_AND_CONDITION_EOI.pdf and http://www.forestry. gov. gy/Downloads/Amalia_Falls_sect_ 6_ 7.pdf .

The GFC tender was for removing forest from 67 km of the road alignment, not just logging the commercial timbers, over 3,368 ha, implying an average clearing width of 506 metres. That is a lot more than has been mentioned in the EIAs provided on the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, and would be more like an airstrip than a road. Remember that large illegal airstrip in State Forest near the Corentyne River which the GFC’s wall-to-wall survey of
deforestation did not detect in 2007-8?
So we have an unlikely road alignment, an extraordinarily large forest clearing width, no public news about the prior forest clearing which was to be completed within four weeks of the award of contract, and a roading contractor much behind schedule. Perhaps, Editor, you could send a journalist to have a look at what is actually happening on the ground? And how the estimated 101,000 m3 of commercial timber in road sections 6 and 7 have contributed to alleviation of the domestic timber shortage noted recently by Minister Robert Persaud, during a year in which exports of unprocessed logs to Asia have exceeded 101,000 m3? – as well as being contrary to the National Forest Policy and to the PPP 2006 election manifesto for in-country value addition of timber products.

Yours faithfully,
Janette Bulkan